LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has announced the March 2019 Employees of the Month. They are as follows:
Patricia Coombs serves as administrative associate senior on the School of Pharmacy-Wichita Campus, providing day-to-day oversight of the Office of Administration and Student Services. Patricia is the only administrative support staff member on the campus in Wichita. It is a difficult task fulfilling all of her job responsibilities in supporting the associate dean, five full-time faculty members, students and guests. She also manages accounts payable and ensures that the office operates efficiently, yet she does it in an exemplary fashion.
Coombs has always sought more ways of getting involved on the Wichita Campus and taking on additional responsibility and providing additional support for administrators, faculty and students. Some examples include ensuring that the videoconferencing for core and elective classes are scheduled accurately — no minor task. She is responsible for scheduling the exam proctors throughout the semester. She completed online ExamSoft training so that she would be able to troubleshoot minor errors that students may encounter with the software during electronic testing. She completed training and has become the primary point of contact for Lawrence- and Kansas City-based pharmacy faculty for classroom support. She assists the planning committee for the Wichita Pharmacy Resident Preceptor Development Consortium with organizing and managing the logistics of all of their continuing education seminars throughout the year.
Most telling about how Coombs stands out are the testimonies of the people she supports:
- “Her kindness the first few days after I first arrived on campus has made a lasting impact on me. I am confident I can always rely on Patricia. She always provided (and continues to provide) encouragement and kindness. She has become a trusted, respected colleague and a true friend.”
- “Patricia fully supports our education by allowing us to practice the skills that we learned in pharmacy skills lab on her. That has included finger sticks for lipid and A1c screenings, blood pressure monitoring and medication counseling. It gave us an opportunity to enhance our skills and prepare for our profession.”
- “Patricia was the first person I met with the School of Pharmacy. I was here as an undergrad to visit with Dean Emerson. Patricia helped me schedule my appointment, made sure I had driving directions from my hometown and was the first person to greet me when I arrived. She was so kind and wanted to know how I was and where I was from. It made me feel so welcome here. At the time, I knew I was applying to a fantastic program because of how welcomed I was.”
- “Ms. Coombs is like our school-mom. She always shows us concern and takes care of us if we ever need anything, even if it’s just a Band-Aid.”
Coombs exhibits the utmost devotion and dedication to her job, this campus, the pharmacy school and KU while also setting a shining example of character, kindness and work ethic for students at the Wichita campus.
Josh Jones leads the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access (IOA), where he has worked for approximately three years as an investigator, interim director and now director. He investigates complaints and violations across the university in an effort to ensure that all members of the KU community have the opportunity to work, teach, research, live and learn in a free and fair environment. As the director, he manages the case load for Title VII and Title IX Investigators. He and the investigators he supervises are responsible for addressing harassment, discrimination and sexual assault complaints that affect members of the campus community. He oversees complex investigations and difficult decisions/outcomes that affect the KU community.
Jones has served as the interim director of IOA twice and recently earned the director position due to his exceptional leadership and commitment to the department and KU. Jones has lead the office through approximately 500 complaint responses per year, including the management of numerous complex investigations. IOA’s mission has continuously expanded over the last few years, and Jones has succeeded in helping to transform IOA into a trusted partner for all KU stakeholders.
Jones is never far from his work. IOA handles very sensitive material and issues that often require work outside regular business hours. As an investigator he has reviewed hundreds of cases, and as the director he continues to work to improve office policies and processes and to refine the IOA brand. Even though working in IOA is difficult and often under intense scrutiny, employee efforts have contributed significantly to making KU a truly safe and inclusive environment.
His people skills and positive attitude stand out in making IOA more approachable with the campus community. This approachability has led to a more equal and accessible campus for all. Jones makes a point to meet with campus partners regularly, and he gives his new staff introductions to decision makers across campus. Jones previously worked for student affairs and still teaches a class and helps with multiple student-centered activities, reflecting his commitment to KU.
Jones is a "go-to" for many people on campus. The mission of IOA leads to situations where department chairs, vice provosts and other campus leaders call and need urgent attention. He is always available to provide advice and to commit the resources of his office as necessary in support of all campus units.
The different roles Jones has been assigned and the flexibility he has exhibited in the process is remarkable. Multiple people, including his supervisor, remarked on his communication and leadership skills. He is a calming and stabilizing individual in an office that often has to make challenging and difficult discussions. He has a skill for enforcing policy in a professional and fair manner because of his excellent leadership skills and knowledge of policy.